VIERA, Fla. - In an objective competition, Ross Detwiler probably pitched well enough this spring to put himself in the Nationals' rotation. But no competition in baseball is truly objective; Detwiler came into the spring needing to take a spot away from someone, and with Tom Gorzelanny pitching well enough to secure the fifth spot, the left-hander is likely headed to Triple-A Syracuse as the loser of the option game.
He's well aware of the dynamics, though, and said after his final start of the spring he plans to be back in the majors soon.
"There's five spots and six people," Detwiler said. "I can do the math. I know it's not a perfect game. Not everybody's going to finish the season, as you'd like that they would. I'll get my opportunity when it comes."
Detwiler, the Nationals' first pick in 2007, lost much of last season to a torn right hip flexor and the aftereffects of surgery to repair it. He looked to be beyond all that this spring, posting a 2.65 ERA. But the left-hander said his curveball - which has been an effective pitch for him this spring - could still get better, and he's embracing the chance to work on it at Syracuse.
"The secondary pitches, especially the curveball, need a little work," he said. "You don't really want to work on things at the big-league level. You want to work on them, and then get there and be able to dominate."
Assuming he pitches well for the Chiefs, he'll likely be the first starter called up if the Nationals need to make a change in their rotation.
"I had to go out there and prove to myself, first, that I could compete here and I belong here," he said. "That was the first step. The next one is to prove it to everybody else."